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Cablegate: President Arroyo Pardons Former President Estrada

VZCZCXRO9105
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #3519 2981242
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251242Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8716
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 003519

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PINR RP

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO PARDONS FORMER PRESIDENT ESTRADA

REF: A. MANILA 3086
B. MANILA 2965

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a widely anticipated move, President Arroyo
late on October 25 pardoned former President Joseph Estrada for his
unprecedented conviction and sentence of life imprisonment on graft
and corruption charges. President Arroyo cited the government's
policy of clemency for elderly prisoners and the former president's
nearly seven years in detention as factors in the pardon. Estrada's
full civil and political rights are restored under the decree of
executive clemency, but only in return for a pledge never to seek
public office again. The former president is allowed to retain
assets he held before he became president, but the bank accounts and
property he amassed illegally during his two-year tenure will be
forfeited to the government, as decreed by the graft court that
found him guilty. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In what Administration officials called a "reconciliatory"
action, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on October 25 granted a
pardon to former President Joseph Estrada. Press Secretary Ignacio
Bunye made the announcement in an evening press conference on
national television (full text of decree in paragraph 6). The
pardon comes six weeks after a Philippine anti-graft court found
Estrada guilty of plunder and sentenced him to up to 40 years in
prison - essentially a life sentence. Estrada was under house
arrest pending appeal.

3. (SBU) According to Administration officials, President Arroyo's
decision followed the Department of Justice's recommendation for
pardon. Estrada recently dropped a motion for reconsideration on
his verdict and announced he would seek a "full, free, and
unconditional" pardon. Dropping the appeal made the court's
decision final and paved the way for a presidential pardon.

4. (SBU) Arroyo's pardon is not completely unconditional. While
Estrada's full civil and political rights are restored, the decree
notes that Estrada "publicly committed to no longer seek any
elective position or office." In addition, while Estrada will be
allowed to retain assets he held before he became president, assets
acquired illegally during his two-year tenure will be forfeited to
the government, as decreed by the Sandiganbayan graft court that
found him guilty.

5. (U) Text of Presidential pardon follows:

Malacanang Palace

By the President of the Philippines
PARDON

WHEREAS this administration has a policy of releasing inmates who
have reached the age of seventy (70),

WHEREAS, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention for six
and a half years,

WHEREAS, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer
seek any elective position or office,

IN VIEW HEREOF and pursuant to the authority conferred upon me by
the Constitution, I hereby grant executive clemency to JOSEPH
EJERCITO ESTRADA, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of Plunder and
imposed a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. He is hereby restored to
his civil and political rights.

The forfeitures imposed by the Sandiganbayan remain in force and in
full, including all writs and processes issued by the Sandiganbayan
in pursuance hereof, except for the bank account(s) he owned before
his tenure as President.

Upon acceptance of this pardon by JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, this
pardon shall take effect.

Given under my hand at the City of Manila, this 25th Day of October,
in the year of Our Lord, two thousand and seven.

[Signed: Gloria M. Arroyo]


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website: http://www.state.sgov.gov

KENNEY

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